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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween – the story behind your power plugs….

It’s Halloween and we have a grim tale for you about the battle to supply electricity to your homes…..

Today we have the smartphone patent wars but 130 years ago it was the Current Wars – AC versus DC, Tesla versus Edison. There could be only one winner and, unfortunately for an elephant named Topsy, Edison was willing to play dirty.


Trade Marks and Companies House

In our day jobs we often meet prospective new clients who have registered the name of their new start up company at Companies House and have then commenced a programme of advertising to jump start their business. Although checking, via Companies House, that your company name has not already been taken is obviously important it should be borne in mind that availability of a name at Companies House does not necessarily mean you are free to use that name in the course of business.  Neither does registration of a company name at Companies House provide the right to prevent others from trading under the same name.

Prior to adopting a new name, it is therefore prudent to speak to a trade mark attorney to ensure that the name is free for adoption and, further, to ensure that you put in place the best form of protection to enable you to prevent others from using a similar name in future.

Further information can be found here.

Apple “Apology”

As noted in many recent news stories, Apple has now included a link on their UK website to a page explaining the outcome of their recent Court of Appeal decision in the UK. The link on their front page has been located in such a way as to provide a sort of “Where’s Wally?” experience when you try and find it.

Clicking on the link takes you to a page completely devoid of Apple branding. There are six paragraphs of text on this page, paragraphs 1 and 5 being the text specified by the judge in the UK court case. Paragraphs, 2, 3, 4 and 6 have been added by Apple. When I look at the page, I can’t help seeing it like this:


Doctor Who (IP – Hit or Miss?)

I say old chap. You haven’t seen my sonic screwdriver, have you?

Does The Doctor know his IP from his elbow?

Incidentally, just in case you’re wondering, there is an (admittedly tenuous) intellectual property (IP) connection to this story!

In the episode in question, Silence in the Library (trailer below), the Doctor and Donna are summoned to a planet sized library, The Library, via a message received on the Doctor’s psychic paper where they encounter a team of explorers led by Professor Song and funded by Mr Lux. The Doctor and Donna are encouraged to sign non-disclosure agreements upon encountering the team in order to ensure that their “individual experiences inside the Library are the intellectual property of the Felman Lux Corporation.”

It turns out that The Library has been deserted for 100 years following some kind of incident in which all the occupants of the Library disappeared. When things predictably start to go south the Doctor gets annoyed with Lux and declares “Mr Lux, right now, you’re in more danger than you’ve ever been in your whole life. And you’re protecting a patent?”

Just what does the Doctor mean by his reference to “protecting a patent”? Does it make sense from an IP context? Is it an IP hit or miss? And, am I over-thinking my Saturday night telly?


IP Hit or Miss?

Ever been watching a film or something on TV and noticed that the intellectual property (IP) reference that just cropped up in the script is wrong? No? Well, you probably manage to get out more than me.

To this author at least (patent attorney, tech nerd and SF geek) references to patents, trade marks and the like seem to pop up quite frequently in the entertainment media.

 IP Hit or Miss? is an occasional series of articles that takes a light-hearted look at IP as it appears in the media (films, TV, news reports etc) as an excuse to talk about different IP topics. A vague rating of “IP hit or miss?” may also be given depending on how well the particular IP concept has been incorporated into the media in question.

Want to suggest a film, TV show or other reference that we can take a look at? Drop us an email or leave a comment below.

A brand-free zone

Guest contributor Annette Freeman writes:

When I visited Havana, Cuba back in the late 1990s, there were a lot of surprises. For a trade marks attorney, one of the most shocking was the brand-free atmosphere. Billboards displayed only public service announcements about saving water and so on, or the occasional “Vive la revolución!” Pharmacy shelves were lined with glass jars and plain white packages – not a brand to be seen. The only branded products I saw were Bacardi® rum, a local concoction called “Cuban Cola” (from Mexico), and a few venerable Cuban cigar brands.

Now, in Australia, cigarette producers and consumers are going to enter a similar Twilight Zone for trade marks, with Australia’s plain packaging legislation for tobacco products surviving a High Court challenge. This final route of appeal in the Australian legal system was always something of a last-ditch stand for the tobacco companies, as they had to reply on a constitutional argument – that the Australian government was depriving them of their property by banning use of their trademarks on the packs. Unsurprisingly, the Court held that no property was being taken, merely its use regulated.


Jay-Z and Beyoncé may have 99 problems but their trade mark ain’t one

ImageContrary to press reports, all is not lost for Jay-Z and Beyoncé in seeking to protect their daughter’s name as a trade mark.

At the start of this year, Jay-Z and Beyoncé sought to register their daughter’s name – Blue Ivy Carter – as a trade mark to provide them with the sole right to use the name for a whole variety of products, from basketballs and teething rings, to hair care products and sound recordings.  The application was made in name of BGK Trademark Holding, a company whose sole member is Beyoncé.


It’s a question of design

Is this an iPad I see before me?

In the recently decided Samsung versus Apple case in the UK Court of Appeal, the court confirmed that Samsung did not infringe Apple’s registered Community Design No. 000181607-0001.

At paragraph 54 of the decision, Sir Robin Jacob stated: “If the registered design has a scope as wide as Apple contends it would foreclose much of the market for tablet computers. Alterations in thickness, curvature of the sides, embellishment and so on would not escape its grasp. Legitimate competition by different designs would be stifled”.

In light of the above and the decision as a whole it would appear the UK courts are going to give design registrations a fairly narrow scope.


European Union Unitary Patent is a Few Centimetres Closer

With the relentless momentum of a rundown mobility scooter, the EU’s various legislative organs appear to be making progress in agreeing the final terms for a Regulation on the unitary patent and unified patent court. Compromises have been brokered and the word in Brussels is that the offending Articles 6-8 may be removed or replaced with something non-substantive. It appears that if the European Parliament adopts the Regulation in Mid-November then the Council may approve it in December or early January 2013. This could allow for the Regulation to come into force in the enhanced cooperation states of the EU (i.e. the EU less Italy and Spain) in late Spring of 2014.


Too Late to Gangnam?

IPcopyrich is currently at AIPPI 2012 and sends this piece about “Gangnam Style”

Koreans are understandably proud of the worldwide success of “Gangnam Style” by PSY, carried on the back of the viral success of the song’s video parodying the opulent consumer culture of Gangnam in Seoul.  So much so, that at the opening ceremony of AIPPI2012 (one of the most important intellectual property conferences of the year) in Gangnam, the Korean AIPPI president broke off in the middle of his opening address to launch into the Gangnam “horseriding dance” – it was quite a sight, though as neither we nor anyone else has preserved this for you on YouTube, you’ll have to take our word for it.  You could ask the Prime Minister of Korea, who was in the audience.